After two years of courting a nearby rival, Florida's Seacoast Banking Corp. finally inked a deal last week.

Seacoast, an $808 million-asset bank holding company in Stuart, has an agreement to buy Port St. Lucie National Bank in a $25 million stock deal.

The deal would more than double, to 30%, Seacoast's deposit market share in Port St. Lucie, a growing city of nearly 60,000 on the so-called Treasure Coast in the middle of Florida's eastern seaboard.

The deal was "a consummation of a long-term discussion," said William R. Hahl, chief financial officer of Seacoast. "We view this as a very opportune acquisition."

Mr. Hahl said Seacoast was waiting until Port St. Lucie National, an eight-year-old bank with $126.2 million of assets, was ready to sell. Under the agreement, 900,000 shares of Seacoast common stock would be issued for Port St. Lucie National shares-about two times book value at current prices. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter.

J. Hal Roberts Jr., president and chief executive officer of Port St. Lucie National and its holding company, would become executive vice president of Seacoast's main subsidiary, First National Bank and Trust Company of the Treasure Coast.

Mr. Roberts could not be reached for comment.

Seacoast has been trying to expand north into St. Lucie and Indian River counties, and has especially had its eye on Port St. Lucie National's two branches, Mr. Hahl said. First National has four of its 19 branches in St. Lucie County.

The deal gives Seacoast "a bridgehead in St. Lucie County so they can make other acquisitions in that county," said Richard X. Bove, bank analyst at Raymond James & Associates in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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